Child porn pervert walks free

Gary Mason firefighter. Picture by FRANK REID. IRN.
Gary Mason firefighter. Picture by FRANK REID. IRN.

A TRUSTED former school governor and civilian fire officer has walked free from court despite downloading almost 2,000 sick pictures of children over the internet.

Gary Mason, 49, who served on the board of governors at High Tunstall College of Science in Hartlepool, amassed a catalogue of child porn over five years.

During that time he also gave regular presentations to youngsters in schools and colleges in his role as an arson awareness officer with Cleveland Fire Brigade.

Teesside Crown Court heard he downloaded 1,861 vile pictures and movies between April 2005 and April last year.

One featured a baby girl and others included children as young as seven.

But Mason was spared immediate prison by a judge so he could get help.

The court heard Mason, who also served in the Army, suffered from a mental disorder, although it is not known what triggered it.

Police uncovered the images after being called to Mason’s house while investigating another matter.

Equipment including two computer towers, three laptop computers and two memory sticks were seized and analysed.

Most of the images were at the lowest level of seriousness, level 1, while 259 were classed at level 4 and 16 were at the most serious level 5.

Louise Reevell, prosecuting, said: “One of the level 3 images involved a baby girl with an adult male.

“Otherwise the range was between seven-years-old and 14.

“The defendant was interviewed and admitted he had downloaded all the images.”

Ms Reevell added that Mason had a computer programme that allowed him to share images with other perverts, although there was no evidence of him doing so.

He was suspended from both roles with the school and fire brigade when the offences came to light.

Robin Denny, mitigating, said Mason had been suffering from anxiety and depression, but that had improved since an operation on his pancreas.

He said: “There must have been something very distrurbing which suddenly changed this man from being a fairly responsible school governor, doing various jobs over a period of years, to behaving in a rather bizarre way.

“The doctor’s report talked of him having an adjustment disorder. There was something significant that affected him.”

Mason, of Sandbanks Drive, Hartlepool, admitted 17 charges of making indecent images of a child and will be put on the sex offenders register for 10 years.

He was given eight months in prison, which was suspended for two years, with supervision and will have to undergo a sex offender’s treatment programme.

He was also made the subject of a lifelong sexual offences prevention order, which prevents him from having any personal computer equipment.

Judge George Moorhouse said: “You know yourself anyone who gets embroiled in this sort of behaviour is causing pain to a child somewhere in the world.”

A spokesman for Cleveland Fire Brigade said: “Gary Mason was a serving member of Cleveland Fire Brigade at the time of his arrest. The brigade has fully co-operated with the Police during this investigation and he was suspended from duty following allegations coming to light in April 2010. Gary Mason is no longer employed by Cleveland Fire Brigade.”

Mark Tilling, headteacher of High Tunstall College of Science, said: “Gary Mason was suspended as a governor in May 2010 as soon as the allegations came to light. He was subsequently dismissed from the governing body in October 2010.

“We can confirm that the offences do not relate in any way to his activities as a former governor at High Tunstall.”